Saga of Lucimia argues GM events should be mandatory in MMOs, not an ‘optional service’

    
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Not happening.

A few months ago, we ran a Leaderboard poll asking players what kind of live studio-led events they want out of MMORPGs. By way of example, I compared the types of GM-run live events I saw in Ultima Online and EverQuest. In Ultima Online, we often saw long-running plotlines, mysterious NPCs, decorated special locations, dungeon crawls, and weddings galore. In EverQuest, I saw weddings, yes, but also GMs running around massacring newbies to get the highbies to come take them out (which wasn’t such a grand time as you lost experience on death). In Asheron’s Call, well, don’t take my word for it – just listen to Andrew talk about some of the biggest MMO events that ever took place in the genre.

Such GM events – the good ones, at least – are the subject of Saga of Lucimia’s weekly dev blog, which ought to make the majority of you who voted for plot, roleplaying, and activities other than endless murder in your event happy.

“Over the years, that type of interaction faded away as it became too ‘cost prohibitive’ for companies to maintain the type of staff required to create such unique events, and these days you are hard-pressed to find a GM logged into any game, much less get customer support to answer your emails in a timely fashion,” Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson maintains. “Cash shops and loot boxes are the name of the game these days. Game masters? What are those?”

It goes without saying that the devs plan such events in Lucimia when it launches.

“Presently, I’m in the middle of preparing a storyline that will take place over multiple test sessions for our Early Access community, starting here very soon in 2018. Our developers will be playing the parts of NPCs, and players will be not only testing the game, but also roleplaying through these storylines over the rest of the year (and potentially beyond), which will also tie into the tabletop game that is currently being worked on. […] I think it’s safe to say, given our obsession with lore and storyline and tabletop history, that the one thing you will never see from our MMORPG is a game where the zones always remain the same, or quest lines that always remain the same. A GM presence is mandatory for us; it’s not an optional ‘service’ we are offering players.”

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MikeH

Man, this brings back some fond memories. Way back in the early-to-mid 90s I worked on a text-based precursor to today’s graphical MMORPGs called Legends of Future Past. I was in charge of a team of GMs whose duty it was to run daily events and weekly quests for the playerbase. We often ran interwoven quests that would run for months and require us to constantly create NPCs, areas, items, zones, etc. often times at the drop of a hat.

Of course, doing such things was a lot easier back then as we were only dealing with a text medium, but it was still some of the most fun I’ve ever had in the online environment. The online community we formed during those years was incredibly close-knit and many of us remain friends to this day. Heck, I even met my wife there and we remain happily married (and gaming) to this day!

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Venomlicious

I just wish it had a 3rd person view. From what i see the game looks very good but i just can’t get past the first person

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Tim Anderson

We haven’t yet implemented 3rd person. It’s coming, but it’s not high on our list of priorities.

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Solaris

I agree with this. Any spontaneous content created by GM events makes game worlds feel so much more alive. I was really excited for Revival because of their ideas around GM events. Would love to see other MMOs do the same.

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Tim Anderson

We’d love to see more doing it as well! And happy to pay the subscription fees/premium fees for the staff who create the content. It’s a forgotten part of MMORPGs.

kjempff
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kjempff

This eerie, get out of my head. This is literally word by word what would come out if you attached a thought-reader to my brain. I may just have to apply for a job with you guys soon, as I am running out of excuses.

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Tim Anderson

We’ve got several job openings available :) http://stormhavenstudios.com/careers Though our priority right now is an FX Artist!

kjempff
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kjempff

I had my eyes on that “Senior Generalist Programmer” for awhile. Slightly out of my league but not that far.. I can check at least half of the items on the list with confidence.

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Tim Anderson

That one’s lower on the list so you’ve likely got some time to polish the rest of it up! Rich is currently getting the foundation layers of the crafting system in place + Bobby’s got the ongoing combat/questing/etc. work. We just talked about this last week, and are probably a few months out from really “needing” someone in that role, so go get some experience points and level that bad boy up!

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Melissa McDonald

I think it’s awesome when GMs inhabit boss characters and take them outside their normal boundaries.

I’ve often said “endgame” for max-level-players should include the ability to inhabit lesser-boss characters to make those encounters more interesting, rather like Monster Play in LOTRO, but not anything that could tip the balance.

edit: It occurs to me that we generally know almost nothing about what spells and abilities boss characters possess. would be illuminating in many ways.

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Armsbend

Make a new founder’s tier: You get to be an unpaid GM.

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Tim Anderson

Except, no. The only people who will be GMs are our staff.

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Sally Bowls

I can see the desire, but think it could be difficult to keep working in a for-profit game. Everywhere, in gaming and without, I see companies trying to minimize the number of humans required. I remember when Blizzard laid off like 600 people many years ago, they said it was mostly customer service people who had been obviated by automation.

If they can make this work, more power to them; I bet there will be a number of people who will appreciate this.

Another downside is on the declining side of the life cycle. I game that uses people instead of automation (/rant I wanted StoryBricks!) will be hurt more as the population declines and especially in maintenance mode.

I wonder if there one of these offerings will evolve into a boutique MMO – with lots of expensive humans and prices much higher than $180 per year?

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Tim Anderson

I’d say by the number of folks already in our early access community, we’re providing exactly the type of experience that many players want. We haven’t even started marketing yet.

It’s not difficult at all, IF (and I stress the IF) it’s planned as part of the service offered for the monthly fee that players pay to play the game.

Which, for us, it is. And has been since day 1.

It’s a lot easier when A) it’s planned for; B) it’s a small, privately-owned company as opposed to a investor-driven entity; and C) you are only catering to a niche community.

We aren’t trying to be Blizzard with millions of subs. We have small goals that we’ve already hit all of our benchmarks for in terms of achieving, which continues to show us that what we are building has an audience, even if it’s not a “massive” audience that some might consider “necessary” for a AAA title.

It’s really just business 101: putting the satisfaction and happiness of your playerbase first.

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Enrico Mazone

Exact!
The events held by the gm in the game, were an excellent incentive for the community, but today as today we think only of loot boxes, to be carryed and streaming … The online communities were once more close-knit motions than those that there we find again now.

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Tim Anderson

This :)